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Hutchinson, William, 1850-1925


Posted By: Lydia Lucas - Volunteer (email)
Date: 10/26/2017 at 09:12:48

Along with coverage of district court judge William Hutchinson’s death (December 22, 1925; see separately posted obituary) and funeral, the Alton Democrat published a lengthy autobiographical interview with him that had been conducted in summer 1925. This interview was published over three issues in January 1926: January 1, pages 1, 4, 5; January 8, page 4; January 15, page 3. Unfortunately, the bottoms of most of the columns in the digitized newspaper were blurred or blacked out, probably the result of poor quality control in the initial microfilm from which the digitized version was produced. As a result, a number of lines here and there in the autobiography were illegible.

* * * * * * * * * *

An Epic of Pioneer Days

(The following story of his life was written by Judge William Hutchinson last summer at the request of the Democrat.)

“Judge Hutchinson, you have often promised to give me a short story of your life, but it has been put off from time to time and now that you have the time, do it.”

“Yes, I know that I promised to give you a short story of my life. I wish now that I had [not?] done so, I hate to talk about myself. Yet is has been my purpose through life to keep every promise, and having made the promise I will fulfill it; so if you will do the writing, I will tell you something of my life.”

His Father’s Life

“First and foremost, I had better tell you who I am. My father was born in County Dreary, Ireland, about the year 18……. When a young man he was bound out as an apprentice and served seven years learning the blacksmith trade, and when his term was out and he was released, he was a finished perfect mechanic. He was ambitious and at that time the outlook in Ireland was not bright for a young man who wanted to make something out of himself, so he got together enough means to purchase a ticket and pay his expenses to America. He left the old home in Ireland, taking passage on a sailing vessel, spent five weeks making the voyage, and finally landed safe and sound at New York City.

There was little of anything to do at his trade, and he spent many days looking for work. After a while he got a job shoeing horses for a stage company at twenty five cents a day. A little later protective tariff laws were passed, there was a greater demand for labor and wages materially increased, and at the time he left New York he was receiving a wage of two dollars per day. My father was a great believer in our protective tariff system, and he lived and died a strong tariff Republican. His educational advantages in Ireland were very limited, yet he received some schooling, and was good in mathematics, a good writer, an excellent reader and was endowed with lots of good common sense.

His Mother’s Life

After a few years working at his trade in New York City, he left there with the intention of locating in Chicago, Illinois. He got as far as Coshocton, Ohio. At that time, it was thought that Coshocton would make quite a city. It was settled largely by North Ireland people. My father liked the surroundings. He felt at home, and liked to associate with the North Ireland people, so he changed his mind and located at Coshocton, Ohio, opened a blacksmith shop and prospered.

My grandmother’s name on my father’s side was Thompson. My memory fails me, and I have only to say that I trace back through the Allisons, the Campbells, the Morrisons, the Hendersons, etc.

My mother’s maiden name was Elinor Hall. Her father’s name was John Hall, born and raised in Belfast. He was engaged in the manufacture of linen goods, and at one time was well fixed financially. At the time of the great slump in the linen business he lost all his property. My mother was born at Hall’s Turn, a few miles from Belfast; Hall’s Turn being a large settlement of Halls to which we can trace many relatives and prominent men, among others, the great preacher and lecturer Dr. John Hall who preached in the Presbyterian church at Brooklyn, N.Y. for so many years. My mother was raised in the Episcopal church and received a fairly good education.

Came to Ohio

After my grandfather Hall died, my grandmother, with her two sons and two daughters took passage on a sailing vessel for America. She told us many times about the trip on the ocean, the awful storm at sea when they expected to be lost, but the ship lived and in due time they reached their destination in New York City. From there they continued their journey to Coshocton, Ohio, the objective point of so many North Ireland people. It was at Coshocton in after years that she became acquainted with my family[?] [6 illegible words, apparently a marriage].

[seven illegible lines, including children being born and a reference to his brother John, apparently the oldest]
James, who was killed in an accident by a team of mules about thirty-five years ago. Next came my only sister. She died at Montezuma, Iowa. She was married, and left one child, Ethel Lytle, whom Mrs. Hutchinson and I brought up, and who is now the wife of W. L. Gund of Marcus, Iowa. I was born December 29, 1850 and am the only surviving member of the family.

Came To Iowa

In the spring of 1855 my father came to Iowa looking for Government land. He and a few companions traveled to the end of the railroad which I think was Rock Island, Illinois. There they left the train and traveled on foot over many counties in southern Iowa, and finally concluded to settle in Poweshiek County, where, on June 5, 1855, he purchased from the Government 800 acres of land for which he paid in gold, the sum of One Thousand Dollars, or $1.25 an acre. In 1856 he had a small one-room house with upstairs built.

In May, 1857, with two covered wagons and a covered buggy, we left Coshocton, Ohio, for Iowa. The wagons were new and covered with oil cloth. The buggy was new, with top. The horses were all young and in good condition. Father took the lead, John Moffitt drove the other wagon and my brother John drove the buggy, with mother, James and Elinor. We camped nights except in case of storms. I can remember a little about the trip. I remember for a long part of the distance through Indiana and Illinois, there was a long string of covered wagons, most of which were headed for Iowa. I remember when we crossed the Mississippi river, my father took me in his arms and told me we were approaching Iowa. The distance was about nine hundred miles. We made the trip in four weeks. We did not travel on Sundays.

The Prairie Home

When we reached our destination, I mean our new home, we found an unfinished house in the open prairie; no other buildings, no shade trees, no gardens. We dug a well and got plenty of good pure water, broke a few acres of land, raised a little sod[seed?] corn, finished and plastered the home and put on a lean-to. We built stables and sheds out of crotched posts set in the ground, covered with poles and long slough grass, and bought a few cows so that we had milk and butter. There was an abundance of wild fruit—plums, grapes and crabapples, and we gathered and put away for the winter, nuts of all kinds.

My father tried breaking prairie with horses but could not make it go, so he bought five yoke of oxen and my brother John and I were put to breaking prairie with the oxen. At that time I was about nine years old. Practically every individual has some outstanding ability. Let me say here I never was an extraordinary success at anything, but I prided myself upon being an expert upon the care and driving of oxen. There is no dumb brute so quick to learn, that is so obedient and will do more to bear man’s burden than the ox, providing he is given fair treatment. If not given good treatment, he will sulk and become absolutely useless. I can remember our five yoke of oxen. I can describe them by name. The wheel cattle were Buck and Bright; next were Turk and Lion; next Dime and Barney; next Dick and Banley; and of course Tom and Jerry. There never was a man in that country who did not have at least one yoke of cattle named Tom and Jerry.
[transcriber’s note: “Tom and Jerry” was, in 19th century British parlance, a reference to rowdy young men about town, originally from the protagonists in Pierce Egan’s “Life in London” (1821)]

Engaged Preacher

Often settlers would mire down hauling through sloughs to their homes. We had only oxen there for a time, and father would call me, I would take the cattle, go down to the slough, and with bare feet would wade in, hook the chain to the end of the tongue, gee the cattle off to the right, then give them a haw pull, crack the whip and everything had to come; there was no question about it. The nicest part of it was there were no tips and there was no pay. It was the act of a pioneer. I drove the oxen for more than four years, breaking prairie and doing other farm work.

About this time the settlers got together and of their own accord, hauled logs and built a log school-house. The District was organized, my father was elected Director, and hired our Presbyterian minister to teach the school. My mother and a few other good women secured from Erie, Pennsylvania, an old minister by the name of James G. Green, who came out and preached in the homes, and the only pay he received was that which he received for teaching the District school. He was a good man, and when not otherwise engaged, spent his time riding an old white mare throughout the settlements, visiting the sick and preaching the Gospel.

Shelled Corn By Hand

I attended the District school, which usually was a three month’s term each winter. Our nearest railroad station was Iowa City, seventy-five miles distant. All of our farm products had to be marketed there. There were but few bridges, and normally the settlers bunched and traveled together so that they could couple-team in bad places and help each other along. I remember we children shelled corn by hand, which father would haul in[to] Iowa City. It took him three days to make the trip, and while he was gone we would shell another load. People, as a general rule, were poor.

There was wilderness[?] and pasture[?] [3-1/2 illegible lines]
we children were out playing and we noticed a large band of Indians moving up from the creek toward the house. We ran and told mother and she told us to hasten to father, who was mowing hay with a scythe in a slough not far from the house. We called him, and by the time that he got to the house, it was full of Indians, crowded full of men and squaws. My father was a very positive, strong and courageous man. He began to drag them out at the door. Mother was giving them all the bread and other things that she had in the house. Father at once pushed them out. Mother and we children were greatly frightened, but father drove and dragged them out of the house, one after the other, and let me say here that he was not over gentle. Then he told mother to lock the doors and he went out to the old hay stable, which was likewise full of Indians, and he drove them out of the stable and ordered them off the farm. These Indians were a remnant of the Sac and Fox tribes as I recollect it, and they passed from the Iowa river north of us to the Skunk river south of us twice a year, but never afterwards in passing our house did they even stop, look in or beg.

The Pioneer Life

Hardly a night but what we would hear the wolves howling. Time went on and things developed. Trees and orchards were planted, farms were made productive. Houses were improved, and it was not many years until the railroad pushed farther west, and when it got as far as Brooklyn, sixteen miles from our place, we felt that we were well situated as to market.

When I was on the farm and growing up, everything was hand made. We lived as one great family. If we were sick, our hay was put up, and it was so with all the neighbors. I think we are too much disposed to give all the credit to the pioneer man. I believe more belongs to the pioneer woman. I lived through it, and looking back now, I cannot understand how it could be done, and how the good mothers could plan three meals a day and arrange for the bedding and clothing for the entire family. It was work, work, constantly work, and yet the social life was not entirely overlooked. I can remember the big dinners, Christmas, Thanksgiving and many other days when the neighbors and settlers got together and joined in social intercourse.

The pioneer mothers had much experience. They were called upon to do all manner of things and help in many different ways. My mother and Mrs. Saults were called upon all hours of the day and night in case of sickness, and never refused to go. The night was neither too cold nor too dark. If there was sickness in the neighborhood, all that was necessary was to give the signal, and the neighbors responded. The only doctor was fifteen miles distant. My mother would often be gone for several days at a time, and father and we children would get along without her. We did the work and took care of the home and everything during her absence, but there was no complaint.

Went To College

Not long after locating on the farm, my father built himself a blacksmith shop. He did this so that he might do his own blacksmithing but it was not long before he was [five illegible lines]
when I was not at school. I learned to shoe horses, fix plows, make nuts and bolts, set tires upon wagons and do many things to assist my father. There is no nicer work than to work with iron. I can look back and recall the pleasant days that father and I spent in the old blacksmith shop together. He worked for the settlers, but got little if anything for his services. They needed him and intended to pay him. Many of them eventually did pay, but many were never able to do so.

When I was about nineteen years old, I went to Oskaloosa College and was there part of two years, after which I received a certificate to teach school, and I taught school in the timber in Maheska County for three winters. Our farm adjoined the Maheska County line. The school house where I taught was two and a quarter miles from our home. I walked back and forth every day. I received $35 a month. When I received my money I handed it over to my mother. She was my banker.

At that time I had no intention of being a lawyer. I had a cousin who was a lawyer, and he loaned me some law books: Kent’s Commentaries, Greenleaf on Evidence, Parsons on Contracts and Domat’s Civil Law. This last book I doubt if any of you fellows have read. I spent long winter evenings in the old farm home, reading these law books, and at the end of three winters I concluded that I would like to be a lawyer, so I went into the law office of Ballard and Hall in Montezuma and read law.

In 1878 I was admitted to the Bar. I then began to look for a place in which to locate. At that time Kansas was having a boom. I bought a land excursion ticket and started for Kansas. My first stop was at Topeka. The day was so windy and dusty that I could hardly see anything. Topeka was a railroad town, and building up rapidly. From Topeka I went to Hutchinson, Kansas. I did not like the town, too much salt. I went from there to Dodge City. That was a frontier cowboy town. I had a revolver, but didn’t have to use it. I went from there to Larned, which at that time was having something of a boom. People were coming in rapidly, most of whom seemed to be lawyers.

I went from Larned to Rush Center, about thirty-five miles north of Larned, and off the railroad. They had just organized Rush County. It was nicely situated on a little stream called Walnut Creek, and I liked it very much. The boys at Rush Center wanted me to stay. It was in May. They figured out that if I would stay I would be the only lawyer who would be eligible for election as the County Attorney that fall; that my salary would be at least $500 a year, and that they needed a lawyer. The hotel man said he would take a chance on boarding me. I remember at the time I had $20. I concluded to stay; took my grip upstairs to a room and went out to get some fresh air. I saw a little man a little way across, standing near a haystack. I introduced myself, told him I was a lawyer and had concluded to settle at Rush Center. He told me he was from Michigan, was a newspaper man looking for a place to start a newspaper. I said, “This will be a great place for you.” He asked, “Why?” I told him I thought it would grow and there would be lots of printing to do. He said, “Where will you get your clients, and to whom will I sell my papers? Who is going to pay our board, and what will we do this coming winter?” I discovered that he was homesick, and I also discovered that he was planting the seed deep in me. He said, “I’m going back to Larned on the stage, and you had better go along.” I told him I thought I would stay. It was about time for the stage to go back to Larned. We walked over to the hotel. The stage drove up—four horses, man up in the box with two or three passengers. My friend from Michigan got on. I looked at him and he looked at me. I said, “Wait a minute.” I ran upstairs, got my grip, crawled onto the stage and in less than ten days I was back in my old home in Iowa. When I returned to Montezuma I opened a law office and made an effort to do a little business.

His Racing Experience

Our farm was located near Montezuma. My father liked good horses and it was natural that I had the same feeling. I was privileged at all times, to raise and keep my horses on the farm. I liked to ride horseback, and usually kept a horse to ride. In this way I would sometimes trade or exchange horses. In dealing, I traded for a gray mare, She was wild, and could not be hitched, but under the saddle she was fine and could trot fast. I bred her to the racehorse, Fergerson’s Greyeagle, and in due time she dropped a black colt with four white feet and white face. This was three years before I went to Kansas. At that time John A. Kasson was one of the big men in Iowa. I heard him speak and liked him, so I named my colt John A. Kasson and turned him out on the farm.

When he was two years old I broke him to drive. At three years old, I discovered that he was a natural born trotter. I took him to town, trained and developed him, and the [illegible word] that he was three years old, put him into the races. At that time there were many county fairs [throughout Iowa?], and they gave small [two illegible lines]
to Brooklyn, then to Malcolm; from there to Marshalltown, thence to Newton, Oskaloosa and Agency City. With John A. Kasson I won more than my share of the trotting races, and was generally able to pick up in the neighborhood of $100 a week.

I lived in the stable with him, cooked my bacon and eggs at the stable door and did not pay out any money shipping from place to place. When the Fair was over at one town, I would hitch him to the sulky and drive to the next town. I did this for three seasons. I gathered up some money with my little practice, and with what I picked up racing John A. Kasson I managed to get along. Besides, I gained much experience going down the line with the racehorses, and had a lot of fun. In the spring of 1882, I sold John A. Kasson, sulky and harness for $750, paid my debts and moved to Orange City, Iowa.

Gaynor’s Partner

When I lived at Montezuma, Frank R. Gaynor, formerly Judge of our District and Judge of the Supreme Court, was located with John T. Scott at Brooklyn. We were boys together, very close and companionable. At every term at Montezuma we were very much interested in the trial of cases. Scott had a big trial business, and he permitted us to sit in cases with him, and by reason thereof, we were able to absorb many things that afterwards were very useful.

Liked Sioux County

One night, while sitting in the office at Montezuma, Gaynor and I were talking about the future. At that time he was married, and I was not. He said to me, “You go out and find a location, and we will form a partnership and go into the practice.” I agreed to do so. I left Montezuma and went to Mason City. From Mason City I stopped off at Algona, looked the town over, was not satisfied with it, and went from there to Emmetsburg. I did not like the country there, thought it was too flat. From Emmetsburg I went to Spencer. I looked with a good deal of favor on Spencer, and left with the idea that I might return. From Spencer I went to Sheldon. From Sheldon to Canton, South Dakota, which town I liked, but did not want to settle outside of Iowa. From Canton I went to Rock Rapids, Iowa. I liked Rock Rapids, both town and country and left there with the idea that I might return.

From Rock Rapids I went to Orange City. I drove across country from Rock Rapids, and I never rode over a more beautiful country. In fact I was very much pleased with Sioux County. From Orange City I went to LeMars; from LeMars I doubled back to Orange City, rented an office, put a card in the newspaper, returned to Montezuma and told Gaynor that I had found the place, had rented an office and was ready to start at any time. We arranged everything. I returned to Orange City, put out a sign, “GAYNOR AND HUTCHINSON” and waited for Gaynor to come. He kept putting me off, and finally wrote that his wife did not want to come. Her father wanted her to go to Marshalltown, so I took down the shingle and went into partnership with Bell and Palmer.

That partnership was not pleasant, and I went to Calliope on the Big Sioux River. I stayed at Calliope for about four years, and had the pleasure of going through the old Calliope and Hawarden town fight that lasted for so many years. Anyone who has not experienced a good town fight has missed much. Two towns situated a mile apart, each one trying to tear the other down; churches divided; friendships severed; enemies made, lasting bitter enemies. I was the attorney for the town of Calliope. I was in the Supreme Court twice, and was defeated in both cases. Finally Hawarden won out and became the town as it is now, all one.

The June Wedding

While I was living in Calliope, Mrs. Belle Blake from Marietta, Ohio, came to visit her relatives the Leggett family, and I became acquainted with her in June of 1887. I had a good horse and buggy, and we had many pleasant drives and visits together, and became very much attached to each other. In September she returned to her home at Marietta, and the following month I visited her, became engaged, and on the 14th of June, 1888 we were married.

I will never forget my wedding day. I was dressed in full Prince Albert suit with a black Stetson hat. It was one of the hottest days I ever experienced. We were married at ten o’clock in the morning on the Ben Blake farm, ten miles out from Marietta. It was a very large farmhouse. I remember they got up about four o’clock in the morning. I dressed to be married. At that time I had the habit of smoking, but concluded that I would not smoke that morning until after I was married, so I stayed in the house most of the time and thought the hour would never arrive. When the preacher came, and the ceremony was over, I kissed my wife, darted into another room, took off my fine clothes, got into a traveling suit, took off my coat, got into a rocking chair out under a great oak tree and lighted a cigar. I never enjoyed one more. I was glad that it was over.

The next day we embarked on the Fashion, one of the best boats plying the Ohio river, intending to go as far as Ohio, then back up the Mississippi river to St. Louis, Missouri, but by reason of law water, the boat was obliged to tie up at Cincinnati, so we had to go to Chicago by rail.

Elected County Attorney

While in Chicago, I was elected county attorney for Sioux county and then I moved back to Orange City. I served in the capacity as County Attorney for Sioux County for ten years. At that time the office of County Attorney meant something. The county was being settled, many of the highways were in dispute and all manner of things were causing a great deal of trouble, and the County Attorney was called upon to do many things that the law did not require him to do. The Northwestern Railroad Company established a Division station. It was just at the Dakota border, and was the dropping off place for all the tramps and drifters in the country, and there were many criminals to prosecute.

My salary, when I was elected County Attorney, was $500 a year; my bond was $5000. I had a very good country practice when at Orange City, and was engaged in the trial of a great many different kinds of cases, and was pitted against many of the best lawyers in northwestern Iowa, and in my practice I feel[?] that I had fair success.

Had Wide Acquaintance

After I went to Sioux County in 1888, the county began to suffer[?] mightily and I became personally acquainted with many of the [2-1/2 illegible lines]
after the arrival of the Hollanders from Pella, in a short time they were in the majority and by vote removed the county seat from Calliope to Orange City. The story of the removal of the county seat from Calliope to Orange City has been told many times. It is enough to say that it left a little soreness between the Hollanders at Orange City and those residing on the west side of the county and this soreness developed into much strife and entered more or less into politics.

At that time I was a young man, strong and active, and I naturally drifted into politics. There were many political battles fought out between the people of the county as to who should hold the public offices, and as I have said, I was generally on the firing line. It was said of me at one time that I was personally acquainted with every man in the county. This however was an extravagant statement. I knew a great majority of them, that is, the people in the county. I knew the political leaders and was often in confidence with them in relation to political matters. At that time I had a strong political [illegible word] in the county and helped [3-1/2 illegible lines].

[The court house] was in a dilapidated condition, unfit and unsafe for the public records and there was much talk about the erection of a new court house, but the west side would fight Orange City. The people on the west side of the county were not disposed to allow Orange City to have a new court house. A vote was taken on the part of the people to remove the court house from Orange City to Hawarden. Hawarden was defeated. Later on, a vote was taken to remove the county seat from Orange City to Alton. Alton was defeated, after which the people were generally united and asked the erection of a new court house. A vote was taken, carried, and the new court house was built, after which time peace and harmony have prevailed among the people of Sioux County.

In 1896 Judge Ladd was elected to the Supreme Bench, which left a vacancy in this District. I was candidate for the appointment. O. J. Clark of Sibley was also a candidate, and it looked for a time as if he had the inside track, but I earned[?] the endorsement of a [great majority?] of the [illegible word] in the District, and had a [strong?] [4 illegible lines]

….. [I took into partnership?] with me P. D. Van Oosterhout, at that time a young man just out of college. When I went on the Bench, he took over the practice, and I am pleased to say that he has added to it until he is now one of the foremost lawyers in Northwestern Iowa, and his firm, Van Oosterhout & Kolyn, enjoys perhaps the biggest country practice of any firm in northwestern Iowa. At my last March term of court in Orange City, his son Martin just out of law school, appeared and presented matters to me. His appearance in my court afforded me great pleasure. His father went into partnership with me, a young man just out of school, and to receive and hear his son Martin present matters to me was a very pleasant and pleasurable experience.

Had Large District

When I went on the Bench, my home was in Orange City. The 4th Judicial District at that time was large, and included Harrison county, and my work caused me to be away from home a great deal of the time, and when I would return home on Saturday night, it was usually on the midnight train that got into Alton. Then it was necessary to drive from Alton to Orange City, my home. Many times the weather and the roads were bad.

I remember one time, Bert Bassett, who was working for Wilcox, the liveryman, met me at Alton at midnight. We started to Orange City. Bassett had the habit of driving the horses, and would rather drive something wild than otherwise. Besides, he knew that I was no coward when it came to riding behind wild horses. A great cloud came up from the northwest and at the time we left Alton, the lightning was very vivid. The mare Bert was driving was wild. On the way to Orange City the storm was most severe. The horse would stop, jump to one side of the road and the buggy would almost overturn. When I got home I was wet and muddy. It was past one o’clock in the morning.

Another time in the winter, Bassett met me at the train. It was snowing, drifting from the northwest. We started home, and got about half way. The horse got off the road, one mare down in a snow bank. The sleigh upset, I tumbled out with my big coat on, we got the horses up, the sleigh in the right position, and walked behind and pushed. The horses floundered through the snowdrifts. I got to Orange City about two o’clock in the morning. I was cold and wet and tired, and I told my wife that if I was going to remain upon the Bench it would be more convenient for me if we moved to Alton. We did not want to leave Orange City, but it was so much more convenient to me in the performance of my duty, that I concluded to sell my home in Orange City and move to Alton where I could have the railroad connections.

When we moved to Alton there was but one English speaking church in the town, the Congregational Church. Frank Slagle at that time was the only man member of the church, as I recollect it. Mrs. Hutchinson and I joined. In a little while, Mr. Slagle left Alton and went to Boston, which left me the only man member of the church. Most of the English speaking women at that time were members of the church, and their husbands attended regularly and were very active in supporting the church in a financial way.

The church was not growing to any extent and we could not pay money enough to secure preachers who would interest the congregation, and the church drifted along for several years. Afterwards a Christian Science church was organized in Alton and the best financial support of the little church withdrew from the congregation. A church meeting was called of those who were left, and we concluded to organize a Presbyterian church, and did so. I have been a ruling Elder in this church since its organization. The organization was small, but it began to grow. We had some help from the Board, secured a better minister, and it is most gratifying to me to say that the First Presbyterian Church of Alton has grown and developed and is now in excellent financial condition, with a splendid minister and a modern parsonage and church building.

I taught the Bible Class for more than twenty years, and part of the time I was Superintendent of the Sunday School and have always been active in support of the church. For many years I have been invited and asked to talk from the pulpits of different churches in my District upon different subjects and questions. I have spoken and preached in many different Protestant churches in the cities of Sioux City, Cherokee, LeMars, Sibley and Primghar, and in many cases outside of my district. I was raised in the Presbyterian faith, in fact the Hutchinson family from whence I come, were Presbyterians for generations and generations.

[down part of the next column there is a crease or fold in the newspaper that obscures some letters, and the transcriber has in some cases guessed at the words]

I have been invited to, [and] have accepted and made many pol[itical?] speeches upon national questions before going upon the Bench, and can hardly remember a year that I did not speak somewhere on the [4th] of July. One of my greatest pleasures was speaking to the Old Settlers throughout northwestern Iowa.

His Masonic W[???]

When I was a young [man] I joined the Masonic order. I liked the study of Masonry and I was more or less active therein. In 1912 I was elected Grand Master of Masons [for?] the State of Iowa. The service of Grand Master brought me a large acquaintance throughout the state, and [for] that matter, other states. I was called upon to visit many of the lodges throughout the state, all of which a[ffor]ded me great pleasure, and I enjoyed my service as Grand Master of Masons in Iowa very much.

I was fond of hunting wild game, and in the early days of Sioux County, I found much pleasure in shooting prairie chickens. My wife and I used to drive into the wheat fields in the afternoon and evening, and with my gun and dog, I would tramp over the wheat fields until dark. Mrs. Hutchinson would drive the horse and buggy and follow after me. She always prepared [our] supper, and after it was too dark to shoot, we would sit by the ways[ide] and eat our supper, after which we would drive home. It brought us great pleasure and happiness.

I was never very much of an athlete. I liked baseball and liked to play the game, but never was allowed to play unless they were short a player. Most generally I was left at the base. Sometimes by extraordinary good luck, I would get around as far as third base. Nevertheless I am fond of the game, and like to attend and watch the boys play now as much as ever.

Lawyers Of His District

Many of the lawyers who were in active practice when I went on the Bench are now dead. I want to make mention of some of the more active ones: Senator Bolter of Logan, Harrison County; J. C. McMillan of Monona County; W. L. Joy; John H. Swan; Henry J. Taylor; S. M. Marsh; Senator Lawrence; T. P. Murphy; Judge C. H. Lewis; Craig Wright; A. F. Call; E. H. Hubbard; Dan Sullivan of the Sioux City Bar and many others whose names I do not now recall. In Plymouth County the personnel of the Bar has entirely changed, with the exception of T. M. Zink and F. M. Roseberry. At one time the LeMars Bar was the largest of any Bar in the country district; Argo, McDuffy, the Strubles, Ira T. Martin and others who are now dead. In Cherokee the personnel of the Bar has changed with the exception of A. R. Molyneaux and Wm. Mulvaney.

In O’Brien County I think O. H. Montzhelmer is the only member of the Bar who is still in practice there at the time of which I speak, Judge Boies being in Congress. In Osceola County the personnel of the Bar has entirely changed, and in Lyon County, with the exception of Simon Fisher and E. C. Roach, an entire change has taken place. In Sioux County, G. W. Pitts, G. T. Hatley, F. D. Van Oosterhout and O. G. Reiniger are still in the practice.

I want to make mention of three of the older lawyers who have now retired by reason of age and ill health, who at one time, were trying cases in my court. O. J. Clark of Sibley, now old and feeble, has retired. He practiced law entirely upon common law principles and had but little use for case law. I. J. McDuffy, now old and retired, is living with one of his daughters. He was one of the best lawyers in northwestern Iowa. I have a right to say this, because I have tried many cases against him and know his strength. E. C. Herrick of Cherokee County has retired by reason of ill health. He was a man of wonderful ability and at his best, I regarded him as a legal giant. All of the attorneys whom I have mentioned, who are not [i.e., now] dead or retired, at one time were very active in court. I understood the temperament and character of each and every one of them. They were my friends and I have high regard for them.

The Younger Lawyers

The most remarkable change, however, in the District, is the younger members of the Bar who are now active in the practice. They are in every county in the District. Many of them began practice in my court, and are now at the top of the profession. Let me call your attention to Fred Sargent. He came out of school and opened a law office in Sioux City. He tried his first case in my court. He was brought up in the little town of Akron in Plymouth county. He has been in the practice about twenty years. While he was at Sioux City, he was appointed General Attorney for the Northwestern Railroad in Iowa, and located at Des Moines. Later he was appointed General Solicitor for the entire Northwestern System and located at Chicago. Just a few months ago, he was elected President of the great Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company. He made rapid strides. He made rapid growth. I refer to Mr. Sargent as an illustration which goes to prove but one thing: that no young man in this country ought to become discouraged, for the opportunity is so great and is open to all to climb to the top of the ladder.

My greatest pleasure in life has been my long and continued service upon the Bench. I am now serving my twenty-ninth year. The people of northwestern Iowa have been good to me. They have given this dignified and honorable position to me for so many different terms, and it has been my earnest effort to serve them to the very best of my ability. It is a most honorable and responsible position to hold: to sit in judgment and determine the rights of litigants and see as far as possible, that equal and exact justice is done.

With the passing years of service I have learned much. It has been a long and earnest study of the law. I hope the people will always stand back of our courts. Yes, our courts: a place to which litigants can flee as a refuge, and have their rights determined under the law. In the service that I have performed, I feel that I have rich reward.

Bible ALL Inspired

I was brought up in a Christian home, and like most boys, I owe my start in life to my mother. She taught us the Catechism and the Scriptures, standing at her knee. How well I recall the many verses and chapters of the Book of Matthew that I memorized and repeated to her. I believe the Holy Bible from cover to cover as the word of God. I believe in the Virgin Birth and the Creation, in the Book of Genesis. I have had much experience in life, and let me say the thing that we have most to fear in this country is the extravagant theories taught in some of our modern Universities.

From the:

Alton Democrat

September 11, 1915

Pictorial Edition of Sioux County's Business & Professionals

Wm. Hutchinson (photo included)

Judge of the District Court

Alton, Iowa


Sioux Biographies maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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